Ethanol advocates from across the country descended on Washington, DC the last week of March for an annual "Biofuels Beltway" fly-in hosted by American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE). Adam Andrews, KyCorn's Director of Programs participated with more than 70 other ACE members to visit about 160 legislative offices representing 43 states. The main priority was to explain how successfully the RFS is working and underscore the importance of not messing with it.
ACE Executive Vice President, Brian Jennings said "ACE members turned to Congress to convey the importance of keeping the RFS on track for implementation in 2015 and beyond."
According to Andrews, this event was different from other grassroots efforts for ethanol.
"I usually attend meetings on Capitol Hill with farmers," remarked Andrews. "However in this instance, I attended meetings with non-farm benefactors of the RFS and green energy policy - my advocate partners in these meetings were a pharmacist and a bank board member. It was a fantastic opportunity to explain the important economic multiplier effect that a vibrant ethanol industry provides to rural America."
Just as the meeting participants were not necessarily farmers, the criteria for selecting offices to meet with was not necessarily from those representing traditional corn-belt districts. Many meetings were requested of ethanol critics and members who have arrived in Congress after the passage of the RFS and were unfamiliar with its basic objectives.
"I believe we made some headway - even though they were just baby steps - in casting some doubt in the minds of well-intentioned ethanol critics who have only heard one-sided stories," Andrews continued. "I don't expect these folks to become our strongest allies, but if we can simply create some pause and show them where to find some balanced, science-based research tools, I believe that it will go far to erode the support of attacks on the RFS in Congress."